THE EVIL BELOW (1989) and Tom suffered through SECTOR 7 (2011), but I don’t think either of them made us question our decision to do this. It takes a special breed of film to do that. Fittingly, the films that drive us insane come from a place called The Asylum. To quote Carlito Brigante, “Here comes the pain!”
When we kicked off this series, the one film I mentioned that seemed to set this underwater genre afloat was Disney’s 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA (1954). Their adaption of Jules Verne’s fantasy tale has become the blueprint for most films in this genre and is still a classic today. At the time of its release, it was the second most popular film at the US box office with total revenues exceeding $28 million dollars. Keep in mind this was when the average ticket price was 45 cents. In 2014’s dollars, this total would be just shy of $500 million dollars. So, in Hollywood terms, a total flop! I kid, I kid. Surprisingly, a large scale remake has never been attempted by Hollywood (French director Christophe Gans toiled on the unmade, big budget NEMO for years). As a result, this has allowed the stragglers to jump onboard. With the last live action versions being two made-for-television movies appearing in 1997, The Asylum felt it was safe enough to sink their claws into it by throwing an extra 10,000 leagues onto the title. Sadly, this is the only genius thing they did with their version.
SCUBA gear at 15,000 feet below wasn’t needed to bring along. Yes, really. Anyway, much like your humble reviewer, these folks end up passing out due to lack of oxygen to the brain. When Arronax wakes up, he is stunned to find himself onboard a huge underwater vessel. Cue CGI pull back through the window shot. After the crew is reunited, they are introduced to Captain Nemo (Sean Lawlor). You can tell he is a captain because he has Navy insignias all over his sweater. Oddly, he feels only worth enough to give himself 2 stars, making himself a Rear Admiral. Wait, why would he even be wearing those? Nemo explains that they are all his guests on the Nautilus, his billion dollar submarine that houses tens of thousands. This is conveyed by using the same hallway set over and over. Ever the kind host, he invites them to dinner (we don’t get the famous dinner scene) and has repaired the Aquanaut 3 to send them on their way to rescue the people. Or so they think. Turns out Nemo is a bit bent on the world topside and figures he can nuke it with the missiles he has stolen off the sub. A ruthless white billionaire who wants the world molded to his liking? What is this fantasy that would never happen in the real world? Why is he so driven? Well, seems he has just discovered Atlantis and wants the Oxygenator to revive the submerged city. “Down here you can live for 200 years,” he crows. Oddly, no one questions that. Of course, our boy Lorenzo ain’t gonna stand for this and decides he and his crew will sink Nemo’s plans.